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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

186   The Enfant Terrible of Literature

little of that writer, and have so utterly rejected what I did
read, that he may well have done so without my knowing it.
He damned Erewhon, as Chapman and Hall's reader, in 1871,
and, as I am still raw about this after 28 years, (I am afraid
unless I say something more I shall be taken as writing these
words seriously) I prefer to assert that the Times writer was
quoting from my preface to the Iliad, published a few weeks
earlier, and fathering the remark on George Meredith. By
the way the Times did not give so much as a line to my trans-
lation in its " Books of the Week/' though it was duly sent
to them.

Froude and Freeman

I think it was last Saturday (Ap. 9) (at any rate it was a
day just thereabouts) the Times had a leader on Froude's
appointment as Reg. Prof, of Mod. Hist, at Oxford. It said
Froude was perhaps our greatest living master of style, or
words to that effect, only that, like Freeman, he was too
long: i.e. only he is an habitual offender against the most
fundamental principles of his art. If then Froude is our
greatest master of style, what are the rest of us ?

There was a much better article };resterday on Marbot, on
which my namesake A. J. Butler got a dressing for talking
rubbish about style. [1892.]


In this day's Sunday Times there is an article on Mrs.
Browning's letters which begins with some remarks about
style. " It is recorded," says the writer, " of Plato, that in
a rough draft of one of his Dialogues, found after his death,
the first paragraph was written in seventy different forms.
Wordsworth spared no pains to sharpen and polish to the
utmost the gifts with which nature had endowed him ; and
Cardinal Newman, one of the greatest masters of English
style, has related in an amusing essay the pains he took to
acquire his style/'

I never knew a writer yet who took the smallest pains
with his style and was at the same time readable. Plato's
having had seventy shies at one sentence is quite enough to
explain to me why I dislike him. A man may, and ought to